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RCCC announces staff cuts after budget decline

By Rebecca Rider

rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College announced Tuesday in a campus e-mail that it would be freezing 17 positions and eliminating 36 full and part-time positions. The move comes after the college announced an enrollment drop of nearly 900 students earlier this year.

College President Dr. Carol Spalding notes in the announcement that while the school had predicted a drop in enrollment, the number was higher than expected. While the school has made improvements in recent years to ensure that students spent less time in a developmental review class, the loss of full-time equivalent students — coupled with the enrollment drop — resulted in a decrease in state funding.

According to the e-mail, the school tried to reduce non-salary expenses first, including reducing supplies and materials costs, decreasing printing expenses and maximizing efficiency wherever possible.

“Unfortunately, our deficit is greater than the amount of savings we have been able to find, and as a result, we have had to make difficult restructuring decisions,” Spalding said in the e-mail.

The college has 560 employees — about 380 of which are full-time. Paula Dibley, director of college relations, said that current staffing numbers helped support the 25 percent enrollment boom that followed the recession during the 2009-10 school year. This week’s restructuring is a “natural” move to make sure staffing aligns with enrollment.

“I feel like it’s just made us a little more of a leaner organization,” Dibley said.

The school chose to freeze 17 open positions — and has chosen to fill few vacancies — but 36 other positions are being displaced. According to Dibley, the cuts are spread evenly across the college’s six campus locations.

“These decisions were made after careful analysis and a great deal of consideration for the future needs of the college,” Spalding said in the e-mail.

Ten of the 36 positions would have been eliminated regardless of the budget decline, Dibley said. Four grant-funded positions would not have been renewed after September of this year, and the six housekeeping positions listed make up the final phase in the college’s move to outsource the service.

“That’s something that as an institution we were working towards already,” she said.

In addition, six administrative faculty contracts will not be renewed in the next fiscal  year, and eleven full-time and nine part-time staff positions will be eliminated. Dibley said the school chose to restructure or eliminate management positions that may not be necessary with smaller enrollment, and tried to make choices that would have the least impact on students. But the effects are far reaching.

“I don’t think there was an area of the college that wasn’t impacted,” she said, “No stone was left unturned here.”

Grant-funded positions will end in September, contracted employees’ terminations will go into effect on June 30, and non-contracted employees will work until April 22.

Dibley expressed regret that moves the college had made to improve student outcomes have contributed to a smaller budget for the 2016-17 school year. But the school is moving forward.

“We really believe that most of the enrollment decline is behind us, and we’re confident that this restructuring aligns with our budget for the next school year,” she said.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.

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